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Rabbi's Blog

The Rabbi's thoughts culled from the "word from the Rabbi" in his weekly email

How Much Do You Have

Rabbi's Brothers Message

 

Jacob just spent years of dedicated service for his swindling father-in-law.  Now he is headed home to Israel with his large family and many possessions.  Word reaches him of his brother Esau's approach and Jacob attempts appeasement with a large gift.  It doesn't seem to work so after praying for G-d's help Jacob approaches ready for battle.

The Showdown...

Surprise! Esau kisses and embraces Jacob.  Then they catch up with each other. 

Jacob: It's been a long couple of years working for Laban, but look G-d has blessed me with 4 wives, 12 children, plenty of cows and sheep.  Here take the gifts from me, I have all I need.

Esau: Indeed it is good to see you, however I have many things and I don't need your gifts.  Let me give you a hand on your journey.

Jacob: No thanks.  We have a lot of people, many children and we can't push them too quick.  You go ahead and we'll catch up with you (when Moshiach comes).

In our common speech we reveal our true inside.  Jacob and Esau in their conversation reveal their perspectives on life.  or.

Jacob "Yesh li Kol - I have all" because he sees ALL the items that he possesses speaking to a common purpose.  So he has All.

Esau says "Yesh Li Rav - I have many or much" because he sees everything speaking to a different purpose so he has many.  It is never complete.

In holiness everything speaks to a common goal.  The common denominator of all is revealing holiness and G-dliness in this world.  Whether it is work, diaper changing, wrapping Tefillin or praying on Yom Kippur, they are all about revealing the deeper purpose in creation.

In the realm of the unholy or the mundane everything is preoccupied with its own existence so everything is fragmented.  A diaper is a chore, and work is something you need to get through.  Tefillin can be a ritual to get through and Yom Kippur can be a real hungry day.

The lesson for us: If you feel that your life is fragmented, take a moment to see if the pieces of your life are in harmony with a common purpose.  Or perhaps more effort needs to be put into uncovering their true essence.

G'Luck.

Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman

 

Thank You

 Dear Friends, 

I want to take a moment this Thanksgiving day to thank Hashem (G-d) for giving me ..... 
.... life  
.... health 
.... family 
.... shelter 
.... a wonderful wife 
.... beautiful daughters 
.... a warm and welcoming community 

I want to thank YOU  
.... for allowing me into your life 
.... for our joint spiritual growth 
.... for your past and future support of Chabad's work 
.... for your touching feedback 
.... for your constructive critisicim 
.... for your advice 

In this weeks Torah portion - the words thank you are introduced to the world, as the Talmud says in tractate Brachos R. Yochanan further said in the name of R. Shimon bar Yochai: From the day that the Holy One, blessed be He, created His world there was no man that praised the Holy One, blessed be He, until Leah came and praised Him. For it is said: This time will I praise the Lord. 

What are you thankful for? 

Happy Thanksgiving and have a wonderful Shabbos 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

A nod from Williamsburg

Dear friends,

It's impossible to put into words the feeling of good fortune that I experienced, the sense of destiny and brotherhood that is the Annual Conference of Shluchim (Chabad Emissaries) from which I returned just a few days ago.

So instead I'll give you a visual.

First, a bit of history.

The Baal Shem Tov the founder of the Chasidic movement taught and empowered his followers to live the Biblican instruction of Ahavat Yisroel - Love for our Fellow.  He did this through uncovering the essential Oneness that is the core of every person.

Through his spiritual grandson - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, student of Rabbi Dov Ber the Magid of Mezritch, this idea was formalized into a movement known today as Chabad.

While many embraced this joyous and loving approach to our fellow Jews as being a core part of the Chasidic message others remained introverted and internalized only the personal piety and relationship with G-d element.  As such some of these movements remained insular even here in the USA.

One such community is the community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Now, moving 4000 plus Rabbi's from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the annual banquet that closes out the weekend conference is no easy feat.

Sunday afternoon at 3:00 an army of charter buses loaded up with thousands of Rabbi's began its procession to the Banquet.  The path to Manhattan required a trip through Williamsburg to the Williamsburg Bridge.

We wound our way down the streets mothers with baby carriages eyes open wide.  And there one Chasid looked our way and with a look that contained years of history, a look that reflected a different world view and then the nod.

A nod that reflected a recognition that despite the different attitudes a knowledge that the work we do carries with it the fulfillment of G-d's intent for creation.  A nod that says we need you out there, touching the souls of all our brothers and sisters.  A nod that says we and all of our ancestors are counting on you.

And so I return to Harford County, with the inspiration of thousands of brothers.  I return from a weekend filled with important messages.  I return with new tools to succeed at our hold work.  I return empowered by thousands of years of history.

And dear friends I return with a nod from a lone man on a Williamsburg street on a Sunday afternoon.

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Motivation?

Hello Friends, 

As I sit here in Brooklyn, NY, starting the International Conference of Chabad Rabbis, I would like to share with you a thought that I heard this past Sunday. It was the message conveyed at the 10 Year Gala dinner celebrating 10 years of Chabad in Peabody, MA – where my brother and sister in law have created a warm and loving community. 

The keynote speaker asked: What drives Shluchim (Young Chabad couples and families) to move out to a community and open a “lighthouse”, a place where Jewish life can shine? After all, there are so many reasons not to. Not only are they far from their family and community, causing them to struggle spiritually, they have no funding from Chabad headquarters and therefore on their own to find financial stability.

The speaker elaborated and then explained that there are 3 things that motivate these Shluchim: Love, X-ray Vision, and Jewish continuity. 
1) The power of love - true love for every human being – similar to the love of Sara and Abraham. It is this love that helps them open their tents on all sides, open their home, their hearts and their souls to every person who crosses their path. They want to nourish them physically and to touch them spiritually in a deep way.
2) X-ray vision –seeing those who are externally not connected to their soul. To an outsider, they may seem to exist just to fulfill their self-indulgent narcissistic desires. The Shliach sees a Jacob, someone who is more spiritually in tuned, dressed in Esau’s clothing; stuck in a mundane world trying to make ends meet. The shluchim see that behind the surface of every human is a soul that wants to shine. 
3) Jewish Continuity – How do we accomplish this? The most common answer would be: Create organizations that will engage those who are disenfranchised. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, on the other hand, said, no – every person, on his own, can be an ambassador of light. The leader of the Chabad movement had a different idea, one that has been proven successful with more than 4000 centers worldwide. The Rebbe has told us to spread the light of Torah by doing good deeds and encouraging others to join; to leave our comfort zone, if necessary, bringing light to those darkened corners of the world. 

Inspiring? Yes. But it’s not about the Rabbi or Rebbitzen. It is about YOU. You too can go, you too can be an ambassador of light and of good deeds. Find someone you know and encourage them to do a good deed, to do a mitzvah and change the world one mitzvah at a time. 

While there are no services this week at Chabad, take a moment this shabbos and meditate about what YOU can do to ensure that every person in this community is touched to be a better person. 

Have a great shabbos and we will be thinking of you. 

See ya next week. 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. LIVE FROM NEW YORK! The International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries will offer a live webcast of its gala banquet, this Sunday evening, November 11th, at 5:00pm ET. 

Log on to www.HarfordJewish.com/Live to watch this extraordinary webcast.

Don't Vote For Him!

This time of year should be very uplifting and empowering. After all, we now have the opportunity to elect our representatives, and choose the laws and taxes that we see fit and reject the ones we think are wrong. Even though our choice may not be the winning measure or person, nevertheless, we can participate in a society where our vote does count. Democracy.

As glorious as our right to vote is, procuring our vote has become quite another story. For the month(s) leading up to the election we are barraged with one negative campaign after another. By the time we reach the election, I feel fully informed as to why each candidate is unworthy of the seat.

To be sure, this is not a new phenomenon. It has been said that negative campaigning is "as American as Mississippi mud." So, why does it bother me so much?

Well, for one thing, I know that this coming election, either a mudslinging campaigner who gets votes by emphasizing the degenerate nature of his opponent will be elected. Or possibly worse. The aforementioned fellow with the degenerate nature will be elected.

But there is more.

Words are important and profound tools. Words don't just convey ideas; they inspire and create ideas. Through words we can come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of others and the world around us. Or exactly the opposite.

According to Chassidic philosophy, the faculty of speech derives from the Sefirah (divine attribute) of Malchut, the 10th and final sefirah. It was through this divine power that all of existence came about. As we read in the first chapter of Genesis, G-d spoke our world into being. This divine "speech" is an expression of G-d's attribute of Malchut.

The literal translation of Malchut is "Sovreignty". In other words, Malchut is about leadership. Through their words, leaders create a reality. They reveal a new potential within the individual and within society. Through their dialogue and directives policy is formed, laws are legislated and a new course emerges.

It seems that today's leaders lack this "Malchut" component. In fact, many of them seem to have turned the divine gift of leadership-through-speech on its head. Instead of using the power of the word to reveal potentials and emphasize strengths, words are used, instead, to expose flaws and emphasize weaknesses. Instead of inspiring our imagination, they dampen our spirits.

So, what can we do now? I do not have a solution for elevating the campaigns or changing the tides of our even polarizing country. But my words can have a profound impact on one individual: Me. He remains the one over whom I have full control. As a friend of mine once illustrated, when you point one finger at someone else, you are pointing three fingers back at yourself!

If I remember that my words create a reality in the people around me, I will take them much more seriously. These words carry a heavy responsibility. I can make someone's day, or take someone's day.

In this election season, when we are called upon to be discerning to choose the right person, we could equally take the lesson to choose our words carefully to create a better world.

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